Suva, Fiji - An inception workshop on Capacity Building and Mainstreaming Sustainable Land Management in Fiji took place today at the Land Resource Planning and Development conference room in Nabua.

The purpose of the workshop was to introduce stakeholders to this new four year SLM project and to discuss the 2008 work plan. The SLM project is jointly undertaken by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests through the Land Resource Planning Division (LRPD).

The sustainable land management for Fiji will mean promoting sustainable land use practices using participatory community techniques.

The SLM project offers an opportunity to develop and identify partnership opportunities with Government, NGOs, regional and UN organizations.

The project will involve a lot of planning that will include the participation of the formal and non formal sector, it will also look at empowering agricultural extension officers in the divisions in the dissemination of proper information on sustainable land management techniques directly to the communities.

Proper land use planning and land management will ensure the sustainability of land at the national and community level, thus adding value to economic performance and reduce in particular, rural hardship by encouraging sustainable agriculture.

It is important that these practices are filtered into the economic and social well being of the people of Fiji particularly for those living in the rural areas and who survive on agriculture as their main source of income.

Improved use of land information systems such as the Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Land Information Systems (LIS) and Remote Sensing, will be a key focus in strengthening capacities of Government and NGO extension workers. This will contribute to efforts of minimizing soil loss.

Participants of the workshop included agriculture and forestry officials, representatives from SPC, University of the South Pacific and the Resource Owners Association.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Tom Lee officiated at the opening of the workshop.

About this project
The project aims to bring about awareness and educate Fiji on better land use management technologies through research, technology transfer, capacity building, generation and compilation of reliable data. Much of the countrys developments occur on sloping lands with unsustainable practices leading to the destruction of ecosystems and integrity, causing deterioration of food security in rural areas.

It will provide support for sustainable land management technologies to minimize land degradation problems; stabilize the rural community socially, economically and environmentally. It will collect, acquire and generate good quality land resources based information for sound decision making.

The project will create awareness on the governments recently adopted Rural Land Use Policy and all other relevant legislations.. As well as initiating practical on-farm sustainable land management technologies, national land use planning will be an integral part of this project.   The project will be implemented in partnership with UNDP-GEF, the Government of Fiji and various national stakeholders. The total project cost is US$1,197,477, and consists of a GEF contribution of US$475,000 and Co-financing of US$697,477.

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